5 Simple Tips for Healthy School Lunches

Kids heading off to school means it's time for "The Lunch Debate". Do you shell out the lunch money cash in the hopes that your precious little one eats her school meal, or do you pack her a healthy school lunch?

While magazines are loaded with fun, clever, healthy, colorful, adorable, and often time-consuming lunch options, remember that the purpose of that lunch is to stuff your kids with body-absorbing, energy creating foods, designed to get them through the rest of their day.

5 Tips for Healthy School Lunches

Stuff 'em with Vitamins

Go for the color. A colorful lunch is fun to eat, and loaded with the good stuff. Mix and match or create a theme like "Yellow Day", or "Carrot Week". Challenge your kids to come up with ideas for the themes, and see if they can get their friends to play along.

We all need to shoot for 5 fruits and veggies each day. Create a sticker chart and challenge your kids to earn 5 stickers every day…2 for lunch!

No processed meats

Unprocessed lean deli meats, low sugar peanut butter, hummus, whole wheat pancakes, low sugar yogurt, cheese, and hard boiled eggs are all examples of protein packed alternatives to processed meats. 

Protein is a pivotal part of healthy school lunches, and will keep hunger at bay throughout the afternoon. Your child will have the nutrition she needs to stay focused on those afternoon lessons, without the sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats of processed meats.

Keep it cold

Studies show most packed lunches are not stored at proper temperatures. Food that is stored improperly grows bacteria that can make your child sick.

Use reusable ice packs or a thermos, and avoid mayo and other condiments that require refrigeration, or serve them on the side in easy to transport individual packets. 

Pack what they'll eat

The same healthy school lunch is just fine day in and day out if that’s what your child prefers. While sandwiches of alfalfa sprouts with olives for eyes look adorable in a magazine, if your kids won’t eat them, and skip their lunch, they will not have the energy they need for the second half of the day. 

Try out new lunch ideas on the weekends, just to be sure they taste as delicious as they look.

Watch the sugar

“Kids foods” are often loaded with sugar, and foods labeled ‘low fat’ often have added sugar to improve flavor. Sugar causes a boost in energy, followed by a crash. This is just not a good feeling, especially when kids are stuck at a desk, trying to focus on their lessons. 

Sugary foods and drinks are loaded with empty calories, and can cause obesity and a host of other negative health issues that can impact your child for a lifetime.

No mother wants this for her child. When shopping, read food labels. Sugar lurks in places you would never imagine. Even many "diet" cereals are loaded with it. Reading the label is the only way to know exactly what's inside. I promise you will be surprised!

With just a bit of planning you can create healthy school lunches, and safely fuel your kids up for an afternoon of learning and fun.

With just a little planning, you can assure your kids have the delicious and healthy school lunch they need in order to excel in their school day.

Bon Appetit!